By 2020, crude oil trade flows west of Suez will drop by 4.2 MM bpd, while crude flows east of Suez will rise by 4.7 MM bpd (Fig. 1), according to a recently published report from ESAI Energy. The primary global implication of the growth in US shale liquids and Canadian oil sands is significant change in crude oil trade flows. These changes will fundamentally alter the relationship between OPEC countries and the consuming countries of North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. Relative to the US and Europe, the countries of Asia-Pacific will become far more dependent on OPEC countries for oil supplies. This will force the countries of Asia, especially China, to take a more deliberate role in responding to Middle Eastern conflicts and instability in producing countries, which, in turn, will alter the relationship of these countries to the US, the current guarantor of the sea lanes.
| Fig. 1. Approximate changes in net crude, 2012 to 2020 (MMbpd). |